Conditions InDepth: Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Conditions InDepth: Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is damage or disease of the arteries outside of the heart and brain. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to organs and tissues. Problems with the arteries can affect the health of tissue in the arms, legs, and body core.

If PAD isn't treated, it can lead to problems like tissue death, infection, and amputation. Things that cause PAD can also harm blood vessels in the heart and brain. This means people with PAD are at risk for heart attack and stroke.

PAD Causes

Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of PAD. This is a build up of plaque on the walls of the vessels. Plaque is a waxy matter made of fats and other matter in the blood. It sticks to the walls. It can also be made of scar tissue or fibers used to fix damage to the walls. Overtime, plaque grows by trapping other matter in the blood, such as bad cholesterol and blood sugar. As the it grows, the blood vessel gets narrow and makes it harder for blood to flow.

Things that can lead to atherosclerosis are:

  • Smoking —can bother vessel walls and make deposits on them
  • High cholesterol —bad cholesterol can stick to and bother the walls of the vessels
  • High blood pressure —causes strong blood flow that can injure the walls of vessels
  • Diabetes —too much sugar in the blood can lead to plaque build up
  • Radiation therapy


Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.



About peripheral artery disease (PAD). American Heart Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated October 31, 2016. Accessed August 29, 2018.
Hills AJ, Shalhoub J, et al. Peripheral arterial disease. Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2009;70(10):560-565.
Jurado JA, Bashir R, et al. Radiation-induced peripheral artery disease. Catheter Cardiovasc Interv. 2008;72(4):563-568.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) of lower extremities. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated August 23, 2018. Accessed August 29, 2018.
What is peripheral arterial disease? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed August 29, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 8/29/2018

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Home |Terms and Conditions |Concerned About Privacy? |Accessibility |Careers |For Employers and Medical Plan Providers

You may also be looking for: CVS/pharmacy | MinuteClinic | Specialty Pharmacy | SilverScript | Accordant